This Cherry Crisp recipe is a quick, lazy, summer dessert and the first to go at every potluck, picnic, barbecue or Sunday dinner. Simply stir together the cherry ingredients, stir together the topping ingredients (no cutting in butter!), sprinkle it over the top and bake! The cherries are enveloped in a divine self-saucing syrup (not watery or gummy like some recipes) while the topping bakes up chewy, buttery and SO crunchy thanks to my tips!
Watch How to Make Cherry Crisp Recipe
for the cherries
How to prepare Cherry Crisp Fresh Cherries
This cherry pitter makes pitting cherries quick and easy for snacking and desserts like this!
For the crisp topping
Cherry Crisp FAQS
A cherry crisp is similar to an apple crisp, but made with cherries! Cherry Crisp is a baked cherry dessert made with pitted cherries combined with sugar and cornstarch that bake up soft in a self-saucing glaze topped with a crispy and crunchy topping made with flour, oats, sugar, butter, and sometimes nuts. It is one of the easiest desserts to make because it doesn’t require any special equipment, mixing or chilling. It’s a pit, stir and dump dessert that gets assembled and baked all at once.
Cherry crisps, crumbles, and cobblers are similar desserts but with varying toppings. In a cobbler, the topping is biscuit-like, in a crisp, the topping bakes up crisper, cruncher, lighter and more cohesive. In a crumble, the streusel crumb topping is more crumbly and less crispy. The textural differences come down to the technique and the ingredients:
–Cherry Crisp: Topped with an oat streusel topping typically made with flour, sugar, oats, melted butter and sometimes nuts. The oats crisp up during baking making the topping crisper and the melted butter creates a more cohesive/less crumbly topping that bakes as a unit instead of crumbles.
-Cherry Crumble: Topped with an oat-less crumb topping. The chilled butter is cut into the flour and sugar until it’s sandy/pebbly to create a streusel before being sprinkled over the fruit before baking. The lack of oats means the crumble streusel bakes up less crispy, crumblier and cakier.
-Cherry Cobbler: Topped with a biscuit or cake-like topping made of dough dropped directly onto the fruit to create a “cobbled” effect. The topping is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.
In crumble recipes, cold butter is cut into sugar and flour to create a dry, powdery streusel topping that melts into a crumbly, only slightly crispy blanket when baked. When the fruit releases juices, much of the powdery topping is washed into the filling.
To create a sturdier topping melted butter is incorporated directly into the flour, oatmeal and nuts to bind all the ingredients together so it bakes as a separate entity and doesn’t wash away. Bonus, this method is super easy!
There are two culprits to a runny fruit crisp:
1. First, the cherries can be too ripe. Because the cherries are already breaking down, they will release more juices.
2 Second, the crisp wasn’t baked long enough. Take care to bake the filling until bubbling-hot before removing it from the oven to ensure the cornstarch is cooked enough to thicken the filling.
1. The cherries need to be tossed with plenty of cornstarch before baking. The cornstarch will thicken the juices while baking and prevent a runny filling.
2. Bake until you see the filling vigorously bubbling up before pulling it out of the oven. This means the cornstarch is fully activated and has thickened the filling.
Thickening the filling is necessary because cherries release juice when cooked. This is to our advantage because the juices mingle with the sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and cornstarch to create a sweet, self-basting sauce that’s the perfect consistency without becoming gummy. Without cornstarch, the juices would create a watery filling.
You may also thicken the filling with double the amount of flour. This, however, is more likely to produce a gummy filling.
Yes. The longer you cook the dessert, the more broken down the cherries will become, resulting in a chunky jam-like consistency, instead of cherries enveloped in syrup. You also need to take care to not burn the topping or the whole fruit crisp will taste burnt!
It can be tricky to know when a fruit crisp is done because you can’t see the filling. Bake the dessert for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees F. When it’s done, the topping should be lightly golden without any wet spots and the cherry juices should be bubbling up around the edges of the pan.
Fruit crisps do not need to be refrigerated for up to 2 days so this cherry crisp is perfect to bring to your next potluck, picnic or barbecue. Still, I like to refrigerate the dessert in order to prolong its life. Store leftover Cherry Crisp for up to 2 days on the counter or 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.
Tools Used in This Recipe
Cherry Crisp with Fresh Cherries
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- 2/3 cup flour
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (NOT quick oats)
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans, optional (increase oats to 1 C if omitting nuts)
- zest of one lemon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8×11 baking dish, 9-inch square or round baking dish or 9-inch deep pie plate. Set aside.
- Topping: Add all the topping ingredients to a large bowl EXCEPT the butter and stir until combined. Pour in the melted butter and stir with a spatula to combine then use your hands as needed to combine. Transfer to the freezer while you prep the filling (can be frozen up to 30 minutes, then refrigerate as needed).
- Filling: Add the Cherry Filling ingredients to a large bowl and stir until evenly combined. Transfer filling to the prepared baking dish (including any juices) and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the topping over the filling, breaking up any large chunks (you still want some small chunks).
- Bake: Bake uncovered, at 350°F for 35-45 minutes, until the topping is golden and the juices are bubbling vigorously around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla and extra cinnamon if desired.
Prep AheadI do not suggest assembling the Cherry Crisp ahead of time because the cherries will macerate (soften and release juices), resulting in a watery filling and a soggy topping. You can, however, prep everything except adding the sugar to the strawberries. Here’s how: 1. Pit the cherries up to 1 day ahead of time and refrigerate.
2. Combine the cherries with the filling ingredients, except the sugar. Cover and refrigerate for up to one day.
3. Prepare topping according to directions. Cover and refrigerate.
4. When ready to bake, stir the sugar into the filling and transfer to the pie dish. Add the topping and bake per recipe directions.
To Store and Reheat
- To store: Refrigerate for 3-4 days. Cherry Crisp is the very best fresh from the oven because the crisp is the crunchiest. You can certainly enjoy leftovers, but the topping will start to soften as soon as it is refrigerated.
- To reheat: Reheat the baking dish uncovered at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until heated though. The microwave won’t get the topping as crispy as the oven To microwave, transfer a portion to a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 30 seconds then at 15 second intervals until warmed through.
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